MFEE Remote Learning Community Thinks Community conversations

August 25 and 27, 2020

Over 200 people participated over both nights

Community Think participants

Parents and guardians

Child care providers

School social worker


Special needs teachers

Community members

Community leaders

What schools do their children attend?

What was the racial makeup of participants?

41% of participants provided information about their race when signing up

What grades are their students in?

Where in Montclair do participants live?

Do participants currently have children in Montclair public schools?

MFEE shared three initiatives it is exploring in partnership with community stakeholders:

1. Setting up and sustaining Community Learning Hubs

2. Building an online hub for families to find other families

3. Creating parent and caregiver support sessions

Attendees broke into small group discussions and were asked:

What are the biggest challenges parents and caregivers face going into the school year?

What are your thoughts on MFEE’s proposed initiatives?

What are the challenges? What are possible resources?

What did we learn?

Parents, guardians, community members and teachers are concerned about:

How to make sure their children (and parents and guardians) have social connections

[We need] friendship and socialization. My kids are feeling alone and isolated.
I am concerned about the mental health aspect on my child and myself being isolated and not having a safe group of peers to socialize with regularly.
They are missing the opportunity to have the organic development of new and closer friendships. Especially for my daughter starting middle school...the inability to meet new people in person is very stressful for her.

How to support their child's learning

I'm most concerned that...the burden of getting my child to understand concepts will fall on me.
Put in the position of needing to help my child with remote school, my daughter and I fought more in the spring than we ever have before. It was heartbreakingly sad to me. And, I couldn't do my own work.
K to 3 [students]...need a LOT of adult supervision to engage in remote learning. Keeping children to a 5-6 hour school schedule will require a full time present adult essentially during most of that time, but many homes do not have a parent who can do that.
How can I manage the needs of multiple children who are different ages, grades, and schools?

How to keep a love of learning alive

How can I support my children and give them a foundation of comfort and safety in this midst of us learning as we go? They will be forming that important bond with their teacher and other kids remotely.
My kindergartener doesn't like Zooms so how is this going to work? My 7th grader needs additional ELA help. My 5th grader is no longer interested in Related Arts which she used to LOVE.
My son is currently an honor roll student & I'd like to assure that he has enough structure and stability in his curriculum.
I’m concerned that my child was not challenged enough. I also know my child thrives in more hands on or interactions vs independent learning. So she may not have special needs but she will need to be truly engaged in order to get the most out of her.

How parents and guardians can stay informed and prepared

School starts in 2 weeks and we have not seen anyone speaking to the parents to help alleviate fears of the unknown.
We want the parental voice to be part of the planning by the district. So far, it feels like parents are being told what will happen rather than having any say in this process. If the district expects us to be educators then we need to be an active part of the planning.
As a single parent, it is an extra challenge to balance life, work, virtual school. If there could be a way to create a single parent network, I think that would be a gift for those of us having similar issues.
I would like to understand how parents can engage with the district to ensure that the district understands that instead of one teacher for each class of 24 students, we now have 25 teachers for each class, many of whom have other jobs as well, as well as other children who may also need support at the same time. How can we work with the district to make sure that children are learning while families are still able to function?

How to help students who need additional support

I'm most concerned that my 1st grader will not be able to sit and attend without a live para or person to help redirect him.
My child has a learning disability and a hearing impairment. He needs a lot of professional support.
My son is on the Spectrum, and...no one has reached out to me about his needs and IEP.
What helpful strategies are there for parents to support their ADHD student with remote learning at home and to ensure that student receives services outlined in their 504 plan?
My child has sensory integration disorder. I’m very concerned that I do not have to skill set as a parent to guide my child through the remote learning experience while attending properly to the needs he may have.

How to ensure equity and access

I am very concerned that this virtual set up will be yet another way to divide Montclair and to accentuate the disparities in privilege in this community.
My family has support needs due to Covid stress that were not an issue beforehand. I'm concerned that, because my children were not 'classified' pre-Covid, their needs will be overlooked.
I am concerned the achievement gap will widen with families getting private supports others cannot afford.
I am worried about the inequity that is going to occur between the families with the means and abilities to pod learn and stay on top of education, in comparison to families like mine with many obstacles to traverse.

How to access and support learning off-line

How to keep my child engaged and challenged with activities that DON'T involve screens without taking away from my time and attention at work.
I am very concerned about children who struggle with early literacy, and their lack of access to materials, books, and instruction that could address this.
How to support the learning of pre-school children when so much of our time is spent helping our Montclair public school students.
How to manage a completely online world of learning with kids that are completely addicted to their devices and have no idea how to self regulate. (especially for older kids who don't want their parents looking over their shoulders all day long). What happened to reading a book, playing an instrument, doing nothing and being bored? How do you get your kids there without constant arguments?

How to find supervision for their children during the workday

My child will be alone all week
I am an essential worker and often work nights. I need him engaged on a regular schedule.

How to provide resources and support

I want to help every child and family in our community that we can.
How can I be of service to support the goals of the district?
How can Montclair’s faith community support our community?
For me, the biggest concern is...helping other children whose parents don't have time and abilities to help them with education.
I want to help every child and family in our community that we can.
I just want to ensure children with IEPs get the support they need, younger children can be engaged virtually and school seems fun and exciting, and that equity is a priority in the district.
I would love to help - we are all in this together.

Where do we go from here?

MFEE will continue to work with partners and the community to focus on:

Creating opportunities for parents and guardians to connect with each other

Providing support to families who need it most

Supporting Montclair teachers as they work to create meaningful and effective learning environments

Connecting community by matching volunteers with areas of need

Support MFEE's Remote Learning Initiatives

All funds donated will help develop and expand new programs.



Photo credits: Scott Kennedy and Chanda Hall